Volunteering is a vital part of our world. Without the generosity and perseverance of dedicated volunteers, global inequality would only expand. And while anyone can change the world for the better through volunteer work, the right application of useful skills can make all the difference in the world. Engineers can make an outsized difference on the world around them by applying their practical experience to underserved communities, but taking the time to help others can enrich yourself, as well. Whether you’re an experienced engineer or a student, here’s how work in the nonprofit sector can improve your life.
Developing Your Skills
Whether you’re still in school or just getting started, nonprofit work is a great way to get your feet wet in a real-world environment. Nonprofit engineers who might be relegated to simplistic tasks in an entry-level job are often forced by circumstance to take the initiative in communities in need where both resources and specialized skills are scarce. There are few better ways to first experience the process of engineering a process from start to finish.
But the skills you’ll develop aren’t isolated to your engineering discipline alone. Those same limited resources mean that workers immersed in a community have to wear many hats, and that can instill in you a whole constellation of associated skills that have nothing to do with engineering. One great way to develop non-engineering skills is to involve yourself in a local chapter. From management to marketing to fundraising, there are a ton of skills you can acquire.
Improving Your Resume
That level of skill development can be a huge benefit when you’re out looking for your first job. An engineering graduate who can say they built an irrigation system in a developing nation demonstrates that they have skills beyond the classroom, as well as the theoretical and the initiative to work confidently in a professional environment. And those skills unassociated with engineering can further improve your appeal by proving the breadth of your value as a potential employee.
Volunteer work isn’t something that should just be pursued by students. While engineering is a field well worth getting passionate about, doing the same work every day can become monotonous over time. Volunteering allows you to challenge yourself after your engineering job has become rote, or to flex your talents after retirement. Many veterans even choose to become volunteers, passing on their talents to the next generation of gifted students and developing their management and leadership skills in a way they couldn’t at their day jobs.